Driven to Distraction? How does technology feature? #msl4206

Tamara  has recently linked a tweet to an article which really made me think. I would like to put my thoughts forth and hopefully provoke or spark some discussion about this. In general we have the tendency to avoid or ban objects that might be threatening to our safety, lifestyle, etc. This is natural as of course we want to preserve our well being and those of the ones we love or care about. This, again very naturally, extends to the school environment, as we want to offer our children the safest possible environment. However the question I ask is this – what boundaries do we place on the objects we leave out of our schools? Facebook, mobile phones and smart devices, are as yet banned from school. In some schools and classes, discussions about the online environment are limited to just that – discussions with no tangible or practical experience for the learners. We have this situation where in some classes, the teachers who most often describe the perils and the threats (and of course the boring benefits) of the online world, may not really have that much experience of the online world. The result in my opinion, is providing to be in the alienation of the young learners to the actual workings of the online social media. The article which Tamara has linked, and which you can yourselves read here, argues how in this day and age, we just cannot keep ignoring the online encounters which our young learners will have when they are out of the school. I think it’s really our duty to help the young learners by showing them the right practices. And this is not done in 45-minute theoretical discussion. This is done, by an ongoing best practice that is done throughout the school, across all areas and subjects. I know there are technical and logistic difficulties to these, but I believe the problem  will not be overcome otherwise. More interestingly the article links to another article which describes the results of an experiment done with students of different ages, (and which include university students) about how technology is driving to distraction [this is where I got the inspiration for the title of this blog post]. Professor Larry Rosen describes how we as educators, cannot really prevent these distractions by simply banning them from our classrooms. There are many recorded instances where academics ban the use of laptops or smart phones in their lecture rooms, thinking that like that they would decrease the technology distractions. Professor Rosen’s results show that whilst the use of multiple devices can lead to distractions and even lower grade achievements, banning them from the classroom doesn’t solve the problem. Students still think about Facebook and their mobile phones even when these are switched off! Instead Professor Rosen, suggests the use of tech breaks during sessions. During tech breaks, students are able to text, or post on to their social media platform. The scope of these ‘tech’ breaks is that of giving the students the possibility to focus more on the lecture content and material in-between the breaks. I think it’s a really good idea to give people a small tech break in which to keep up with their virtual self before moving on to continue with their tasks. In the end, it’s all a matter of giving people the right skills to prioritise and manage their time. It’s essential across every discipline and across every line of work.


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